"I couldn't get the smile off my face," Tranquill said, recalling that moment. "I loved everything about it—the campus, coaches. It was really exciting for me to get that first BCS offer. I have dreams and aspirations to go to a school like that. It was the biggest things in the world for me."
Tranquill, a junior running back and cornerback at Fort Wayne Carroll (Ind.) High School, holds offers from Purdue, Eastern Michigan and Toledo, with interest coming in from Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame and others.
As Tranquill's recruitment begins to take shape, he has plenty of guidance right at home. His older brother, four-star linebacker Drue Tranquill, just finished a roller coaster recruitment which ended with a pledge to Notre Dame.
While Drue's recruitment led away from Purdue, that doesn't mean Justin fell off the Boilermakers' radar. In fact, coaches Marcus Freeman and Jafar Williams continue to lead a strong recruitment of the two-way standout.
"They're awesome guys," Tranquill said of the two coaches. "I remember going up for the visit. They're laidback and cool guys, but also great leaders. They know where they want to go with the program. They really believe in Coach Hazell. It's great to see a staff with goals like that."
Throughout the recruiting process, Justin has received advice from his older brother, and that will only continue as more schools turn their interest into offers.
"It's really helpful for me because he recently just went through it," said Tranquill of his older brother. "He went for a while, just because it happened so fast. Before his junior year, he wasn't even on the radar. He started getting all these looks and had to learn about the whole process so fast. He had a lot of stuff thrown at him and handled it really well."
At this point in his junior year, Justin is ahead of where big brother was. He already has three offers on the table, where Drue's recruitment didn't take full flight until the summer.
"It's super exciting for me," Justin said of his accelerating recruitment.
It remains too soon for Tranquill to think ahead toward a verbal commitment. His recruitment is really just beginning, and other offers are sure to follow. He'll know when the time is right.
"I want God to give me a piece of heart," he said, "as to which college I'll be the most successful."